Valentine’s Day. I can’t remember the last time I’ve spent one with a boyfriend. I had a near boyfriend last year, however unfortunately I also had food poisoning on the same day; so it was far from romantic as I sat in bed with a bucket next to me as I hurled up everything inside me.
This year; I’m still single. Which is actually fine, as I’m starting to doubt my compatibility with most men; as I realise my love of travel and new experiences kind of prevents me from staying still, and I feel more and more content loving myself and grabbing life by the balls, rather than the men.
So rather than spending another boozey weekend down at the local bar, me and three friends, two of whom are a couple, took a little wholesome trip out of town.
We got on a mini bus from Chiang Rai’s main bus station; costing us 300 Thai Baht return to the town of Phu Chi Fah.
Phu Chi Far is a town, located in a national park of the same name, up at the east-edge of Thailand; in the Thoeng region of the country. Still in Chiang Rai province, it was only a 3hour journey, and a lot of the reason for it even taking that long was the steep and winding road, as the town is situated around 1,200 metres high up the mountains.
As we climbed higher up the somewhat treacherous roads, with sheer drops of beautiful but dangerous valleys, our ears popped and the engine on the minibus groaned under the weight of all its passengers.
We noticed there were many cars parked on the sides of the road leading to the main street of Phu Chi Fah, and these cars slowly turned into stalls, selling food, illegal DVDs and even Army supplies such as balaclavas and Taser guns. There were big bouncy castles blaring awfully loud and brash Thai music. It was such a random thing to see far from the big towns at the bottom of the mountain, and on this tiny little linear settlement up the top of a mountain.
As the mini bus dropped us in the centre of the town, we were quickly informed that there was some sort of Thai festival taking place here this weekend, although I don’t for the life of me know what was being celebrated.
The bus driver asked us which hotel we had booked, to which we replied none; we were going to just turn up and see what looked good. All other passengers were Thai, and gave us a look as if to suggest we were crazy doing such a thing. They then proceeded to ask us if we had a tent to camp in instead. Looking around, we did notice a lot of tents placed everywhere, this was clearly popular for that; although as the sun went down, the temperatures dropped dramatically, and I can certainly say I am more than grateful for not having to be camping.
So bypassing the hotels lower down the hill, which looked a little lacking in character, we took a steep walk up to some cabins we had spotted from the road.
They were placed on a steep bank, made of wood with a double bed and an en suite each. They were so sweet, and really gave out a strong nature vibe, as they backed onto a forest, had plants sporadically growing from the banks, and also were covered in the largest moths I had ever seen.
They were beautiful, with these huge wingspans larger than one of my hands, but with the fuzzy thick bodies that I could appreciate from a distance, however I was happy for them not to land upon me during my stay.
After gaping at our beautiful surroundings for a half hour or so, we decided to venture back into the town to find some food.
We found a small Thai restaurant on the edge of the cliff-side, where we managed to grab a table right on the outskirts. The sun was just setting as we raised our Leo beers to cheers the best Valentine’s Day I’d certainly ever had.
After a few more of these, we took a stroll through the stalls on the streets, before heading back to our respective cabins for the night. It was to be an early start.
The alarm went off at 4.30am, giving us a half hour to groan, rub sleep from our eyes before Conor and I went knocking for Alice and John James in their cabin.
We wrapped up warm, as the temperature had dropped so low, what with being so high up the mountain.
We all walked back down the hill and into town, where we found a driver with a pickup truck. We jumped in the back, paid him 30 baht each and he took us up the mountain to the highest point we could be driven to.
Here, stood stalls ran by local Thai women, all selling quick instant coffee for the sleepy eyed tourists.
We grabbed a cup each and started walking the last part of the journey, up the rugged grassy path to the top. Lucky being 2015, we all had torches on our iPhone’s; as it was pitch black and we could not see a thing. And it was a long way down had we tripped in the dark. 1,442 metres to be precise.
We reached the summit around 5.30am and sat down to wait for the infamous sunrise; the reason why tourists visit the mountain.
As the sun slowly rises up in the distance, it shines upon a sea of mist, which rolls over the mountain tops. You can see for miles, this eerily beautiful view, with mountain caps pushing their way through the mist, like ice bergs on a rolling sea.
It is absolutely mesmerising and certainly one of the most breath taking views I have got to experience. We were concerned that the mist would not be there, or that the visibility would be bad, however I don’t think we could have asked for a more beautiful day.
The sun started to become slightly visible at around 5.50am, slowly breaking its way through until it was fully above the clouds at 6.50am. I started trying to film this with a timelapse application on my phone, imagining bewitching footage of the sun slowly coming up as the mist literally rolls on in. I had my arm up and aching for so long, as I used my other hand to hold up my GoPro camera, capturing footage with that.
As one of life’s sick jokes, when I eventually decided to stop filming with the timelapse, my phone had ran out of storage, and so it couldn’t be saved.
Luckily however, thanks to my GoPro, and John James snapping away, here are some photos of the views that morning:
When the sun was fully up, we made our descent down to the car park, and into the pickup truck to take us to the town.
We reluctantly packed up our belongings from the cabins, and had a quick spot of breakfast, before being picked up again by our minivan, to take us back to Chiang Rai.
It was a beautiful little excursion out of town, and I’m so glad we braved the cold and the early mornings to see it.
Valentine’s Day is overrated. Being in love with the world, the nature and the appreciation of life and the good people you meet in it, is not. Future Valentine’s Days will be spent with the aim to do something pretty rad with at least myself; ‘cause if you ain’t gona love you; who will?